Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has said a weeks-long oil blockade by tribal groups loyal to eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar has caused the war-torn country nearly $2.6bn in lost revenue.
The powerful groups had in January seized several large export terminals along the eastern coast as well as southern oilfields in a challenge to the rival United Nations-recognised government based in the capital, Tripoli, which collects revenues from the country’s oil production.
In April, Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, clashing with an array of militias loosely allied with the Government of National Accord (GNA). The fighting for the capital has ground down to a deadlock in recent months.
Libya’s oil and gas production has been consistently down since the shutdown of oil facilities, with daily production dropping to 123,240 barrels a day (bpd) on Monday, the NOC said in a statement on Tuesday, down from 760,000bpd in January.
The corporation warned of “potential fuel shortage in the coming days” and complained of lack of funding to import sufficient fuel.
Oil, the lifeline of Libya’s economy, has long been a key factor in the civil war, as rival authorities jostle for control of oilfields and state revenue.
The North African country holds the continent’s biggest oil reserves and the ninth-largest in the world.
The closure of the oil facilities was seen as part of Haftar’s efforts to capture Tripoli and punish adversaries there for sealing security and maritime agreements with Turkey, opening doors for military support from Ankara.
Meanwhile, Ghassan Salame, the UN envoy for Libya, announced his resignation on Monday, throwing UN-led efforts to end the conflict into further chaos.
Citing health reasons, the former Lebanese culture minister said he was stepping down after failing to “unify the Libyans, curb foreign interference and protect the country’s integrity” since his appointment in July 2017.
Libya has been plunged into chaos following a 2011 NATO-backed uprising against longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.